Tuesday, November 9, 2010

The New World We Live In

"We are concerned no longer with cultural inflections, but with a passage from one culture stage to another. In all previous ages, only restricted portions of the surface of the earth were known. Men looked out from the narrowest, upon a somewhat larger neighborhood, and beyond that, a great unknown. They were all, so to say, insular: bound in. Whereas our view is confined no longer to a spot of space on the surface of this earth. It surveys the whole of the plane. And this fact, this lack of horizon, is something new."

Leo Frobenious in Monumenta Terrarum (1929)

Sunday, November 7, 2010

The Retro-Romantic Approach

"other theorists then go further and maintain that most of humankind's problems came with the invention of farming itself, because with farming the human animal began to deliberately alter the biosphere for its own gratification, produced a written language that ensconced power in the dogmatic text, produced an agricultural surplus that allowed some individuals to begin to economically control and enslave others, and began the wholesale subjugation of women. And, indeed, most of that did begin with agrarian farming.
So, these theorists maintain, we really should never have gone past hunting-and-gathering societies. The delightful things then said about these societies--some of which were peace-loving and rather egalitarian, and some of which were not--are, at the least, astonishingly one-sided. Until other theorists carefully point out that precious few of these societies were actually egalitarian, that warfare most definitely existed, that the very seeds of sexist subjugation were planted here, that slavery was not unheard of...
We really should have never gone past gorillas, who at least don't deliberately sacrifice their own or engage in renegade warfare, where slavery is nonexistent and no animal is alienated from its own labors. Until you realize...
And so it goes, scraping layers and layers of depth off the Kosmos looking for a Garden of Eden that ever recedes into a shallower darkness.
My point is that it is one thing to remember and embrace and honor our roots; quite another to hack off our leaves and branches and celebrate that as a solution to leaf rot. So we will celebrate the new possibilities of evolution even as we gasp in horror--and try to redress-- the multiplicity of new pathologies."

Ken Wilber in Sex, Ecology, Spirituality